26 July 2007

I haven't ranted for a while so forgive me for this.

Boingboing links to a post from a pilot somewhere on the interwebs bemoaning the fact that planes aren't safe because advice wasn't followed and idiots concentrate instead on pouring away your Evian at check in and making you queue for nine and a half days before boarding your flight (even though here in the UK the authorities have NO IDEA who is in and who is out of the country). So anyway, this pilots goes on:

Almost six years after 9/11, it is inexcusable that — in an environment where TSA misses more than 90% of weapons, RON aircraft are not secured, and ground employees are not screened — fewer than 2% of our airliners have a team of armed pilots aboard, fewer than 5% have air marshals, and the flight attendants have no mandatory tactical or behavioral assessment training. $24 billion dollars later, we are not materially safer,...

Now, honestly, I'm trying very hard not to be anti-American, I know some lovely ones etc etc etc but please dear non-existent lord do they not see what is staring them in the FACE!??? Six years after 9/11 and there hasn't been another aircraft downed despite no decent security? Does this tell you that all those people "renditioned" (=kidnapped and tortured abroad) represent brilliant work by the security services that has made America safe? The same security services that don't protect the planes on the ground and don't allow you your water or your lipstick on board, these masterminds have foiled every attack? Or, perhaps, just perhaps, does it tell you that your dumb paranoid fantasies stoked by the dimmest world leader in all of the known universe are just that, complete bloody fantasies and that there is no fantasticly intelligent, well-organised and well-funded terrorist organisation out there, no bogeyman under the bed?
Of course, we have our own troubles here with politicians who want nothing better than to scare the populace and give themselves ever more draconian powers - step forward the labour party, the tories and just about anyone in between. Why I'm not living in Canada is a mystery.

11 July 2007

2 New Rules Learned Today

1. Arguments proposed by academics in the Arts (philosophers / sociologists, for example) that rely on neologisms are doomed to be forgotten. If the essay you're reading says something along the lines of "I call this phenomena resurgencism", while you might get a pass from your prof when you come to write about it, you are never going to be quoting it down the pub and it won't ever be useful in an argument.
2. "Acid Folk" as a musical genre isn't as awful as you might think.

8 July 2007

Warning: horrible experimental pic

There you go - attempts made, on a similar pic (apologies - I thought it was the same one but see now it wasn't - too tired to go back and start over), to try and balance sky and land. See the horrible artifacts where the two meet? I haven't worked out what to do about that yet. Also, I have fluffed around with it for ages using layers (which despite struggling with all this time I STILL don't get) and gaussian blurs and all the rest. Anyway, as you can see, the result is fairly horrible, particularly along the tope of the bridge and around the leaves in the tree on the right. Oh well, onwards - more later no doubt.
The painter was a friendly chap and clearly talented - he didn't have trouble with sky tones not matching those of the earth of course...

Richmond Bridge, yesterday

The trouble is, you want clouds, you have to sacrifice a little light lower down and it ends up looking murky. You want light lower down, the sky burns out. You get a neutral density filter, it turns your sky a reddish hue unless it is a decent one (mine isn't), plus you get an unrealistic transitional "line" between the darkened area and the rest. There must be a way of keeping sky and land detail in photoshop but I haven't discovered it yet. There are those horrible HDR pics (I admit, I liked them when they first appeared, now I click on immediately - not sure why, possibly because they somehow all look the same) which rely on a tripod and a number of pictures overlaid in some way, but with the painter moving this wouldn't, I don't think, have worked. I will try and find some articles on increasing tonal range and, if I can manage it in future, you will be the first to know.

Goose, Kew Gardens, today

Morris Dancer, Richmond, Yesterday

3 July 2007

South West Trains: It's the little things that show you (don't) care

There was to be an image here but blogger is buggered so...
You arrive at Waterloo. The concourse is rammed, it is raining outside but somehow, London summers being what they are, it is also incredibly hot and sticky. You look at the new / old announcement boards ("new" in the sense that they have only recently started to be used; "old" in the sense that they have been in the station for years). Either they are not working or there are no trains on the station. Or both - don't forget, it is raining, a great excuse to bang on about "adverse weather conditions" or "unusual meteorological phenomena": rain being such a rare occurrence in the UK, a complete absence of trains in a station with over 20 platforms would, from the point of view of SWT, be understandable. Now, some smaller electronic noticeboards are working, and the tannoy system is working. No news from the latter for some time, so the former are of course displaying all the information you are lacking. My arse. The former are in fact displaying notices saying that the station operates a penalty fare system such that if you leave the station without the right, hugely expensive, ticket (on a train that is, something that isn't going to be happening any time soon), you will be fined.
Why do SWT think this is acceptable? Why don't passengers as one fall on the staff and berate them senseless? Why? Because by this point we are so inured to their complete and utter incompetence that we no longer care. The fact is, we would love it if the station manager, who surely to effing goodness can write whatever s/he likes on the poxy boards, wrote "owing to a bit of mist in Sunderland, everything has gone tits up and, whilst we're a bit sorry, frankly you should know what we are like by now and you wouldn't in all honesty expect anything other than pear-shaped arrangements from us would you?" Anything, ANYTHING, would be better than an insulting penalty fares notice. Idiots.
There, you are free to go. Though not by train of course.